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FCC to Investigate Stephen Colbert Over Controversial Donald Trump Bit

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai said that his agency would be looking into complaints made against Stephen Colbert for a recent bit he did on President Donald Trump, which some have considered to be homophobic.

“I have had a chance to see the clip now and so, as we get complaints—and we’ve gotten a number of them—we are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action,” Pai told Philadelphia’s Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

“Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,” he added. “A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.”

President Barack Obama appointed Pai to the FCC in 2012. Trump elevated him to the chairmanship of the commission in January.

On Monday’s episode of The Late Show, Colbert went on a rant against Donald Trump, satirizing an interview that the president abruptly ended with CBS’ Face the Nation.

“The only thing your mouth is good at is being [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s cock holster,” Colbert said of Trump. His mouth was blurred and the term was bleeped out during the broadcast, however.

Viewers later took to social media, calling Colbert’s joke homophobic. The hashtag #FireColbert started trending on Twitter, and calls started flowing in for people to boycott sponsors of his show.

On Wednesday, Pai explained to Fox Business News that television is governed by different rules depending on the time of day. The FCC flags speech it considers “indecent” before 10 p.m. The Late Show airs at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.

The agency’s website states that content must comply with a three-tier Supreme Court test to be considered “obscene.”

“It must appeal to an average person’s prurient interest; depict or describe sexual conduct in a ‘patently offensive’ way; and, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value,” the website reads.

Colbert addressed the controversy during Wednesday’s opening monologue, proclaiming that he was “still the host.” He insisted that he regretted his choice of words, but still didn’t give an apology.

“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” Colbert said. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero. I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else. But, that.”

Also during Wednesday’s show, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, who is gay, poked fun at the situation with Colbert.

“You taught me new terms,” Parson said. “As a gay man, I didn’t know certain things—that’s titillating. I wouldn’t call it homophobic. That’s just my take on your good form.”

 

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